International Women’s Day


Today is International Women’s Day and there are a number of women who have been influential in the computing industry. So this post pays homage to these great people.

Nicole-Reine Lepaute

Before computers were a piece of hardware, there were people who were human computers.

Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723-1788) was a French mathematician and astronomer who predicted the return of Halley’s Comet by calculating the timing of the Solar Eclipse. An asteroid 7720 Lepaute and a crater are named in her honour.

Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852) was an English mathematician and writer known for her algorithms that were used in Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She is remembered as the pioneer of Computing. In 1980, the ADA programming language was named in her honour and the reference manual was published with her birthdate in the title: MIL-STD-1815.

Beatrice Cave-Browne-Cave

Beatrice Cave-Browne-Cave (1874 – 1947) undertook pioneering work with mathematics in aeronautics and calculated bomb trajectories in 1916.

Edith Clarke

Edith Clarke (1883 – 1959) was the first woman to be professionally employed as an electrical engineer in the US and the first female professor of electrical engineering.

Joyce Aylard and Joan Clarke

Joyce Aylard (1925-)was a codebreaker in Eastcote, and worked on the Bombe machines that were used to decode messages during World War 2. After the war she decoded Japanese encrypted messages at Bletchley Park.

Joan Clarke (1917-1996) was a cryptanalyst and she was only one of two female cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park working on decrypting the Enigma machine that the Germans thought was unbreakable. She was also the only female practitioner of Banburismus, a cryptanalytic process that removed the need for bombes to decrypt the messages. Clarke and Turing were close friends and Turing proposed to Clarke even though he had told her he was homosexual, however he broke the engagement.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) was an Austrian actress, inventor and film producer and co-invented an early form a frequency hopping spread spectrum used in torpedo guidance which was later the basis for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Dr Erna Schneider Hoover

Dr Erna Schneider Hoover (1926-) is an American mathematician credited with the creation of the computerised telephone switching method that would prevent call centres from becoming overloaded with calls.

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